Located in the heart of Rajasthan in Northern India, Pushkar is considered one of the holiest cities in the subcontinent. Set around a beautiful lake, local legend says that Lord Brahma dropped a lotus flower on the earth and Pushkar floated to the surface.
A series of ghats (steps leading to a body of water) surround the lake, as do hundreds of pilgrims who travel to Pushkar year round to bathe in the holy waters and be absolved of their sins. Despite being only slightly larger than a village, Pushkar has more than 500 temples, including the only temple in India dedicated to Lord Brahma - the Creator of the Universe under Hindu religion.
Spend the days drifting through the markets, soaking up the Rajasthani culture, sipping sugary tea in street cafés and shopping. Markets contain everything from colourful clothes to hand-made jewellery, books to bags. Don’t be afraid to haggle – it’s expected from most shopkeepers.
A must while in Pushkar is to take a camel safari followed by a nights camping in the desert. A couple of hours drive into the desert and you could easily feel like you are the first person to ever be there, with never-ending sand dunes rolling as far as the eye can see in every direction. After a few hours on a camel, you’ll appreciate the tasty food and entertainment around a campfire. Warm quilts are provided (the desert is very cold at night) in luxury tents, followed by breakfast the next day and jeeps back to Pushkar.
November is a particularly good time to visit due to the Pushkar fair – the largest cattle fair in the world. Camels are traded, raced, dressed up, paraded around and even entered into beauty contests!
As Pushkar is a holy town, local rules forbid smoking in public, consuming meat and alcohol and wearing immodest clothing. These rules are not enforced, but it is appreciated by the locals when they are followed.
While you’re there…
Hike to the Savitri Temple
It’s a steep climb up the 702 steps on Ratnagiri Hill, but the temple at the top is more than worth it, as are the views of the whole of Pushkar.
Hire a Royal Enfield
Rent the classic Indian motorbike to explore nearby villages.
Hot Air Ballooning
Get unparalleled views of the holy city. Take an early morning flight to watch the sunrise slowly creep over the land.
Where to stay
Ananta Spa & Resorts (+91 145 3054000, www.anantaindia.in)
Sprawling over nine acres, this five-star spa resort offers 62 luxurious villas with private gardens and spectacular views of the Aravalli Hills. The perfect place to unwind and treat yourself.
Hotel Kishan Palace (+91-98281-71549, www.kishanpalacepushkar.com)
A gorgeous family-run hotel just a short walk from Pushkar Lake, enjoy the views and while eating the tasty Indian and Italian food in Pine Wood, the hotel’s roof-top restaurant.
UTurn Hotel (+ 91 9928737798, www.hoteluturn.com)
One of the closest buildings to the lake, choose between six stylish rooms. The comfortable roof-top restaurant is the perfect place to escape the crowds.
Slumdog Millionaire stars Dev Patel and Frieda Pinto shopping.